Caitlyn Basalama

2009 / Tanzania
International Development Management (IDM)


What was your earliest volunteer experience?

I had already been a participant in a Canada World Youth program during which I volunteered in small communities in Western Canada and Eastern Indonesia (2003-2004). I had spent 4 months volunteering as an intern in Gulu, Uganda with the Concordia Volunteer Abroad Program (2007). I had volunteered in Canada since high school with numerous organizations such as the United Church, GuluWalk, Make Poverty History, and the Canadian Red Cross.

Do you have any anecdotes or insights to share about the one-month training program leading up to your Fellowship travels?

I think this was a very important time. It helped me build a bond with the other Fellows, many of whom I am still in contact with and who acted as a support network during our placements. I also remember the workshops to be very useful, and I felt like I walked away with important resources and skills that would (and did) help me in my placement.

What did you do during your Fellowship?

I was a monitoring and evaluation officer with an early childhood development program. I accompanied staff on field trips and trainings, and interviewed beneficiaries… these findings were compiled in databases and reports. I helped with some proposal and report writing, and helped to create promotional materials. At the end of my eight-month placement, I stayed on and worked on a research project carried out by the regional Madrasa Resource Centre office in Mombasa.

Did you eat something that was new to you? What was it?

Mixi urojo (soup), octopus, ubuyu (candied berries from baobab tree)


Do you have any advice for future Fellows?

Be humble and flexible – don’t assume you know what is best. If something is not working, try not to bang your head against the wall to get it to work, but step back and consider what is going on that you don’t see. Take time to settle in and give yourself what you need to make this new place home. Do your best to learn the language and make connections with people in the community.


What are you doing now?

Teaching at the International School of Zanzibar.